In January 2023, a long term planned and several times postponed trip got reality. I managed to visit this remote region. Cautiously getting closer, just touching the very edge. Set foot on the Antarctic Continent at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Going deeper into Antarctica takes huge efforts and can be done only by joining a serious expedition.
Travelling on board the Hondius was a nice and calm experience. Active stabilizing systems keep the ship steady and calm, even in rough sea. Shell doors jut above the water line allow easy entering and exiting zodiacs for landings and boat cruises. There were also a couple of dives planned during the trip. Since I was travelling with some really good underwater photographers, I left my underwater camera equipment at home and modeled for them. On land, I took pictures but left ample of time to watch and explore my environment with all my senses.
Starting in Ushuaia, the trip led us to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. the way back led straight north through Drake Passage back to Ushuaia. The trip was strongly influenced by heavy gusts of wind, preventing us from landing and sometimes even from getting off the ship into the zodiacs. On a trip like this, you’d better have more than a plan A, better also have a plan B, C, etc. and if there’s a shortage of letters, the greek and cyrillic alphabet may provide some more.
it is a pitty, that this remote place is still cause for debates and animosities between Argentinia and Great Britain. The islands are full of fragile nature. Although human settlements have some impact, there’s still plenty of possibillities to watch wildlife.
Penguins, albatros and other birds have their nests along the coast and in the hills close to the shore. Since it was early summer, the birds were still feeding their newly hatched fledglings.
Summer, Sun, Beach – weren’t there penguins on the shore …
Gentoo Penguins, Rock Hoppers, and Magellan Penguins are living on the small island.
Leaving Falkland Islands, we spent two days on open sea until the glacier crest mountains of South Georgia were visible through the fog. This place is so remote that we didn’t even receive weather information for a couple of days. Wind speeds up to 50–70kn were rulig our daily schedule.
Weather was rough and the sea was stirred up by the wind. Currents and poor visibillity made our dives challenging. Even so, we were able to play with seals in the water. they are quick as lightning and they loved to play around us. I was modelling for Bernd Rose during this dive.
We were able to land on a shore, where we met a larg colony of Emperor Penguins. Between the penguins, seals and sea elephants were dozing and sometines waking up for a short fight.
The animals didn’t show any signs of fear but they also din’t know about the safety distance we had to keep.
If you stay calm for some time, you may get intersting insights into animal behavior.
Penguins were busy coming and going, a constant noise, penguins hooting and waves washing on the shore. Young Emperor Penguins look quite differnt than their parents. They were though to be their own species by early explorers.
Travelling furhter south west, we reached the Antarctic Convergence, bringing significantly lower temperatures and also the first icebergs. Wind was still strong and required flexible planning.
Some of the icebergs were small enough and grounded, so we could dive around them quite safe. Visibility was poor due to several days of strong winds. I modelled for Bernd Rose during a dive close to Paulet Island.
Diving at an iceberg near Bluff Island and at the wreck of the Guvernør, I modelled for Harald Hois.
The cold and nutritious waters attract whales. We were able to spot quite a lot, although their blow dissolved quickly in the strong wind.
I was able to set foot on the Antarctic Continent at the most southern point of the trip. Sadly, we were not able to visit Deception Island due to poor weather conditions. Our way back led us straight north through Drake Passage to our final destination, Ushuaia.
After a three days trip with waves between 3 and 5m, we arrived safely at Ushuaia.